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“The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame” by Maximilien Luce

The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame by Maximilien Luce -

“The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame”

by Maximilien Luce

“The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame” by Maximilien Luce was created using the technique of separate dabs of color to create this painting. The view is from the Saint-Michel embankment, and in the center of the picture, the cathedral rises, radiant in oranges, pinks and reds tones, and with bluish shadows made up of beautiful, juxtaposed brush strokes. The embankment and the bridge, which are under a shadow, as the sun sets and are painted using broader brushstrokes, with blue tones and purplish pink colors.

Towering over all the transient human activity stands Notre-Dame cathedral, a symbol of permanence. Notre-Dame de Paris is also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral is a medieval Catholic cathedral and one of the most beautiful examples of French Gothic architecture. Construction began in 1163, with the final elements completed in 1345. Notre-Dame has been a favorite subject for art by many famous artists.

Maximilien Luce was a prolific Neo-impressionist artist, and this painting is just one of ten pictures he created of Notre Dame de Paris.

Maximilien Luce

Maximilien Luce (1858 – 1941) was a French Neo-impressionist artist, known for his paintings, illustrations and engravings. Starting as an engraver, he then concentrated on painting, first as an Impressionist, then as a Pointillist, and finally returning to Impressionism.

Luce was also involved in anarchist activism; he aligned with the Neo-impressionists not only in their artistic techniques but also in their political philosophy of anarchism. Many of his illustrations were featured in socialist periodicals. In 1894, Luce was suspected of involvement in the assassination of President of France and was arrested. He was in prison for forty-two days but not charged. In 1896, while the King of Spain was visiting Paris, the police detained Luce because he was regarded as a “dangerous anarchist.” Through his paintings, Luce demonstrated empathy and fellowship with the proletariat.

Luce was among the most prolific of the Neo-impressionists, creating over two thousand oil paintings, a comparably large number of watercolors, gouaches, pastels, and drawings, plus over a hundred prints.


The term Neo-Impressionism was introduced by a French art critic in 1886 to describe an art movement founded by Georges Seurat. Around this time, many painters were in search of new methods. Followers of Neo-Impressionism, in particular, were drawn to modern urban scenes as well as landscapes and seashores. The scientific interpretation of lines and colors influenced the Neo-Impressionists. The Pointillist and Divisionist techniques were the dominant technique at the beginning of the Neo-impressionist movement.

The Neo-Impressionists were able to create a movement very quickly in the 19th century, partly due to its strong connection to the anarchism of the times. The movement attempt to drive an integrated vision from modern science, anarchist theory, and debate around the value of academic art.

Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris means “Our Lady of Paris” and is also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame. It is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in Paris, France. The cathedral is one of the most excellent examples of French Gothic architecture. The innovative use of the rib vault and the flying buttress, the enormous and colorful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration all set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture.

The cathedral was begun in 1160 and mostly completed by 1260, though it was modified often in the following centuries. In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris.  Today, Notre-Dame is the most visited monument in Paris, with over 12 million visitors yearly.


  • The stained glass windows in Notre Dame are original to its construction in the 1200s.

The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame

  • Title:                 The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame
  • Français:         Le Quai Saint-Michel et Notre-Dame
  • Artist:               Maximilien Luce
  • Year:                 1901
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions    73 cm × 60 cm (29 in × 24 in)
  • Museum:         Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Maximilien Luce

  • Name:                Maximilien Luce
  • Born:                  1858 – Paris, France
  • Died:                  1941 (aged 82) – Paris, France
  • Nationality:         French
  • Movement:         Post-Impressionism
  • Notable works:
    • The port of Saint-Tropez
    • The Quai Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame

Facts about Notre Dame Cathedral

  • Notre Dame is 130 meters long, 48 meters wide, 35 meters high.
  • The rose windows have a diameter of 10 meters.
  • The cathedrals pillars have a diameter of 5 meters.
  • Notre Dame de Paris was built between 1163 and 1345.
  • The cathedral was one of the earliest structures built with exterior flying buttresses.
  • Notre Dame’s twin towers have 387 steps to climb.
  • The largest bell in Notre Dame is the Emmanuel Bell and was created in 1681.
  • The Emmanuel Bell is rung to mark the hours each day and on special occasions.
  • The Notre-Dame organ has almost 8000 pipes, some dating back to the 18th century, which is played with five keyboards.
  • The stained glass windows in Notre Dame are original to its construction in the 1200s.
  • In 1793, during the French Revolution, 28 statues of biblical kings in the cathedral were pulled down with ropes and decapitated by a mob.
  • Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831, was popular and significantly increased interest in the building.
  • The Île-de-la-Cité on which Notre-Dame de Paris now stands was once a Gallo-Roman city known as Lutetia.
  • The cathedral may have been built over remnants of an ancient temple.
  • In 1710, pieces of a sculpted altar dedicated to Jupiter and other deities were discovered during excavations.
  • The cathedral has one of the oldest surviving wood-timber frames in Paris, consisting of around 52 acres of trees that were cut down in the 12th century.
  • Each beam in the cathedral wood-timber frame is made from an individual tree.
  • During the French Revolution, the cathedral was transformed in the late 18th century and rededicated to the Revolution’s new Cult of Reason.
  • During the French Revolution, all 20 of its bells, except for the colossal Emmanuel, were removed and melted down to make cannons.
  • Notre-Dame’s gargoyles or chimera, the carved monsters that don’t act as waterspouts, were added between 1843 and 1864 during a radical restoration.
  • Outside the Notre-Dame is a circular marker with a bronze star embedded in the cobblestones. It is point zero, from which the distances are measured from Paris to other cities in France.

A Tour of the Musée d’Orsay


“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
– Victor Hugo


Photo Credit: 1)  Maximilien Luce [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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